When you think about the upcoming 2010 - 2011 season for Colorado basketball, there is plenty to get excited about. The Buffs will return both G Cory Higgins and G Alec Burks, the third and seventh ranked scorers in the Big 12 this past season. CU was third in the conference in field goal percentage, led the league in free throw percentage and fourth in three point percentage. Colorado was relatively efficient offensively from the perimeter spots, soon to be senior Marcus Relphorde played very well the last half of the year and from all accounts, red shirt freshman G Shannon Sharpe, who was hurt the entire year, will be an upgrade at the point position.
But for all the good, the glaring weakness in the middle will prohibit this team from ever challenging in the Big 12. Colorado ranked a horrendous 325th in rebounding margin, dead last in the Big 12 in defensive field goal percentage, 288th in blocked shots per game and 296th in scoring defense. Most of which can be attributed to a lack of an inside presence.
Jeff Bzdelik has stated many times this year that finding a big man this offseason is priority #1 and he has admitted that the success of his team hinders on a successful search. With the spring signing period beginning on April 14th, it is now or never for Bzdelik. Higgins and Relphorde have one year remaining, Burks might have millions of dollars awaiting him in the NBA.
This weekend, Colorado entertained junior college prospect C Guy-Marc Michel. Michel played his last two years at Northern Idaho College where he averaged seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks per game. Michel, who stands 7-foot-1, is best defined as a raw talent who is much more comfortable on the defensive end compared to the offensive end. He has a 7-foot-6 wingspan and led the Scenic West Athletic Conference (SWAC) in blocks the last two years. He has been supposedly offered by both Gonzaga and Colorado. Michel was named all conference in the SWAC this year.
Fortunately, the Slipper Still Fits, the Gonzaga Bulldogs blog on SBNation, has done all the research needed on Michel, having seen him play multiple times. At first, they were pretty excited about the prospects of Michel since he is a pretty athletic big man who just needed some development on the offensive end:
Positives: The first thing that you notice when watching Guy-Marc is that he is very fluid for a 7'1 athlete. He runs the floor with ease, and I even it even looks like he is gliding when he runs the court. This was a pleasant surprise, as many guys his size tend to labor when they are forced to run the court. The area where Guy-Marc really thrives is on the defensive end of the court. He uses his great size and tremendous wing-span to guard every shot that is taken. He also possesses excellent timing on his shot-blocking which allows for him to deflect many shots that other players his size wouldn't. It is clear he is most comfortable on this end of the court, as he is very vocal with his teammates, and controls everything in the paint. Michel is also a fundamentally solid rebounder. Immediately after any shot goes up, he locates a body and boxes out the man.
Negatives: While there is no denying the tremendous force that Guy-Marc is on the defensive end, his offensive game is about as raw as I have seen. While he is vocal and confident with his teammates on the defensive side, Michel appears to be timid and doesn't demand the ball in the set offense. The NIC was frustrating to watch, because many times, Michel would only receive the ball at the top of the key, where he was clearly uncomfortable. The interesting aspect of Michel's offensive game is that he actually has a decent post game. There were two separate occasions where NIC was able to get Michel isolated with his back-to-the-basket, and both times he was able to finish with ease. I was most impressed by a beautiful baby hook he was able to score over his defender from the left block. It seemed that he could hit this shot any time he wanted, but instead he allowed himself to be a bystander in the NIC offense.
Rivals.com says that Gonzaga offered Michel a scholarship but their is some doubts at the Slipper Still Fits if he would be any sort of contributor on the offensive end. They believe the Zags have not offered considering Michel would have probably committed on the spot since he is at most of the games and an idol of his is former Bulldog great Ronny Turiaf:
However, like many guys who are 7'1, Michel is still incredibly awkward on the offensive end, and has a long way to go before he would be able to contribute at this level. I think that the staff would like to see some signficant improvement from Guy-Marc in terms of his overall skill level before they decide that he is worth a scholarship. Still, there is no denying the natural athleticism and great timing he possesses on the defensive end.
But at the same time, Colorado doesn't need a huge offensive producer but instead a consistent rebounder, shot blocker and a defensive force.
2008-2009: Michel started in 31 games for the Cardinals last season while leading the SWAC in blocked shots with 103. He was named to the All-SWAC honorable mention team. He averaged 8.3 points and 6.7 rebounds last year and was a member of the Athletics Department honor roll. He has a 7-foot 6-inch wing span and speaks three languages.
This past season, Michel's team made it to the Region 18 Championship but lost 80 - 88 missing out on the chance to play in the national tournament. His team finished 27 - 5 on the year. But along the lines of what the Slipper Still Fits said, at 7-foot-1, Michel never led his team in a game scoring wise this year. But some of his block numbers are amazing.
Here are Michel's year stats:
|Michel, Guy Marc||32||14||657||20.5||84||155||.542||63||95||.663||78||147||225||7.0||95||7.2|
I am going back and forth on Michel. You never know how a junior college player with less than eye popping stats will translate to the Big 12. It is a big concern. Buffs center Shane Harris-Tunks, a 6-foot-11 freshman last year from Australia, played 11 minutes a game, averaged 1.8 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. So we don't know what we have in Harris-Tunks yet. It is unbelievably important that whoever the Buffs bring in can contribute right away. Again, Michel is not a world beater on the offensive end and only started 14 games for NIC and played for just 20 minutes a game. A few games, he was in foul trouble. But if you take his 20 minutes a game, extend it to 30 minutes a game, his averages may project to 10.5 rebounds per game, 10.5 points per game and 6 blocks. Not bad at all. We would be signing Michel for his ability to block shots and rebound. If he got 10.5 rebounds and 6 blocks a game, that would make him a team leader in both categories.
Here is Michel's last 13 games at NIC:
He has the ability to be 13 and 13 guy in limited minutes, he shot 61% from the field which is excellent, had plenty of 7+ block games. Consistency might worry me. At 7-foot-1, you would hope to see no games with less than 6 rebounds. Michel had 7 of his last 13 games with 5 or less rebounds.
In the SWAC conference, Michel ranked 27th in scoring, 6th in rebounding, 5th in offensive rebounds and 1st in shot blocks
Another big frontcourt presence for the Cardinals was center Guy-Marc Michel, hailing from Sainte Marie, Martinique. Standing at a lighthouse-like 7-1, Michel is lean and rangy, with a mile-long stride and a wingspan like a bald eagle. He can put the ball on the floor and hop-step to the rack all in one smooth maneuver; oddly graceful for someone so large. Rumor has it Gonzaga University (just half an hour west of Coeur d’ Alene, in Spokane) is holding Michel at NIC until he’s ready for a transfer to the big leagues. To my untrained eye, he has all the physical tools to be a big-time Division I center, though he seems a little raw on the offensive end. But what team couldn’t use an athletic seven-footer?